Saturday 29 April 2017

And a Nightingale sang... at Fingringhoe

'Meeter and Greeter' at the reserve
We took a trip to Essex Wildlife Trust's reserve at Fingringhoe Wick yesterday - to hear the magical nightingale song and to enjoy the ambience of this tidal site on the banks of the Roman River, a tributary of the Colne.

We had a good look in the water channels and were pleased to see this Caddisfly larva (do look at more pictures here) moving about in the bits of twig and reed. These creatures fascinate us: this insect gains high marks for recycling!

There were a few Peacock butterflies fluttering hither and thither in the burst of sunshine and resting on the sandy ground.

This is one of two Tern Islands, specially created for these pelagic birds. It would be good to see it is use another time...

What a lovely position for the new hide. As you can see, the tide was pretty high when we reached the intertidal zone.

Can you spot the singer in the leaves?

There were Nightingales, Cetti's warbler, Chiffchaff and a few Blackcaps about.

This squirrel has a choice perch, overlooking the estuary and the stretch of marsh and water that divides Mersea Island from the mainland. A solitary Goldfinch was making the most of the seeds.

This bit of recycling was done by humans: I love the way in which the feeders and old plough all sit together.

View... with sails

Insects were well provided for: this was a pretty impressive insect hotel. There were some colourful and beautifully decorated (small) ones in the shop. I know birds are better with plain houses, but does anyone know if insect ones can safely be painted? Mine are a little the worse for wear and could do with a lick of something bright.

One of the residents - and there were also two lambs skittering about.

I watched this little fellow having a good preen up in the branches

The site has 300 species of wild flower!
Wild Pansy (tiny)

There were some lovely new signs about - and more seats than I remember, which I always think is an excellent thing to find in a reserve. Some benches had glorious views over the estuary.

There has been some discussion as to the species of these birds. A reserve staff member, with RSPB book to hand, said he thought they were Godwits. A person in the hide suggested Sanderling.

I am drawn to Bar-tailed Godwits for the majority of the birds (Oystercatchers, apart). Male Godwits in breeding plumage develop a russet colour during the breeding season. As the tide came in, we watched the island disappear.  

I believe the word 'murmuration' only applies to Starlings! What would we call these wader spectacles?

A view of the watery landscape, complete with ship making headway upstream.

Not so little 'Little Egret'...

And a final note on the name. 'Hoe' refers in Old English to a spur of land. We find it in 'Sutton Hoo', 'Wivenhoe' and 'Grimshoe (Mound)', to name but three examples of its use. 'Wick' meant a trading place or farm to Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. The word sometimes appears as 'wich' (as in Sandwich or Norwich). I understand it may mean 'bay' in Nordic languages: 'wick' and 'Vik'(ing) are not a million miles apart. 

Friday 28 April 2017

Three Days in North Norfolk - 3

Sedge warbler in the Cley reedbed

This is really a post for our list of wildlife sightings over the three days - plus a few photos.

All sightings were made in North Norfolk during a short post-Easter break.

The places we visited (and saw wildlife) included:

[1] NWT Cley
[2] NT Morston Quay, Blakeney
[3] NWT Holme Dunes
[4] Snettisham (beach near RSPB reserve)
[5] Hunstanton
[6] Holkham estate
[7] Brancaster staithe
[8] Hawk and Owl Trust Reserve at Sculthorpe Moor
[9] (English Heritage) North Elmham Saxon Cathedral - in the Wensum Valley, where hedgerows removed by the 1980s have now been restored.
[10] (English Heritage) Creake Abbey

We are far from expert birders and sometimes get our identifications wrong. But it is always interesting to record what we have seen... and to enjoy the surprises along the way.


[1] Avocet
[2] Bar-tailed Godwit
[3] Bearded tit
[4] Blackbird
[5] Black-backed gull
[6] Black-headed gull
[7] Blue tit
[8] Bullfinch
[9] Buzzard
[10] Carrion crow
[11] Chaffinch
[12] Collared dove
[13] Coot
[14] Cormorant
[15] Curlew
[16] Dunnock
[17] Goldfinch
[18] Greylag
[19] Great tit
[20] Grey Heron
[21] Herring gull
[22] House martin
[23] Kestrel
[24] Knot
[25] Lapwing
[26] Linnet
[27] Little egret
[28] Little Owl
[29] Little ringed plover
[30] Long-tailed tit
[31] Mallard
[32] Marsh harrier
[33] Moorhen
[34] Mute swan
[35] Nuthatch
[36] Oystercatcher
[37] Pheasant
[38] Pied wagtail
[39] Pinkfoot geese
[40] Red-legged partridge
[41] Redshank
[42] Reed bunting
[43] Ringed plover
[44 ] Robin
[45] Sedge warbler
[46] Shelduck
[47] Shoveler
[48] Skylark
[49] Song thrush
[50] Sparrow
[51] Starling
[52] Swallow
[53] Teal
[54] Wood Pigeon 
[55] Wren

Cley - the path to the sea via Arnold's Marsh


[1] Grey squirrel
[2] Hare
[3] Muntjac
[4] Rabbit
[5] Rat and one young
[6] ?Vole
[7] Weasel (seen by David and confirmed by wildlife ranger)


[1] Tadpoles and frog spawn

Cley windmill and the tower of St Margaret's, Cley


[1] Alderfly
[2] Black beetle (not sure which sort...)
[3] Brown-tail moth tents and caterpillars
[4] Eyed ladybird? (awaiting iRecord identification)
[5] Green-veined white butterfly
[6] Harlequin ladybird
[7] Kidney-spot ladybird
[8] Orange-tip butterfly
[9] Peacock butterfly
[10] Woodlouse

NWT Holme Dunes - Brown-tail moth tents and caterpillars

As above - shades of Miss Havisham and her wedding cake, perhaps...

Sea purslane - I think on the mudflats at Morston Quay

Water front at Wells-next-the-Sea

Looking back to St Nicholas church, Blakeney, with its distinctive pair of towers

Herring gull at Blakeney

Remains of St Edmund's Chapel, Hunstanton (Hunston)

North Elmham Chapel/Saxon Cathedral

North Elmham Chapel/Saxon Cathedral from the castle mound

North Elmham. Guess who is happy to have found a sign...

Oystercatcher in evening sunlight

Thursday 27 April 2017

Three Days in North Norfolk - 2

Bearded tit
I mentioned that I would add some more Cley photos in a second post, so here they are. We were thrilled to see Bearded tits in the deep reedbeds with the Sedge Warblers. We stood poised on the path, listening for the ping that often precedes their presence. These beautiful birds are extremely elusive!

But it was not just tits and warblers in among the reeds. It was lovely to see a few butterflies, including this Peacock in a sheltered spot below the raised path to Cley from Morston Quay. 


We were just about to enjoy our picnic lunch when I noticed what I took from a distance to be a female Orange Tip, but when I drew near I realised it was actually a Green-veined White, another seasonal first for me. We actually saw several flying about near a patch of dandelions. 

Unlike the Peacock butterfly, this black beetle was strolling along the top of the bank in the sunshine. 

David noticed a streak of red in the brambles at the edge of the raised path, and it turned out to be the chest of a Linnet. I think this is my best view to date of a Linnet's back. What lovely pied markings on the tail.

There are usually quite a few Avocets on the Cley reserve. I was so hoping to take a photo of one in flight, but this will have to wait for another occasion. I see it is the 70th birthday of RSPB Minsmere (down the coast, into Suffolk) this weekend and that there is a new Avocet mug to mark the occasion. 

These Bearded tit pictures below are definitely 'click-and-shoot' shots, but who could resist these magnificent little birds? And it seems to me that the 'beard' is definitely more of a moustache!

There were several ladybirds along the path to the sea at Cley. 

 I am puzzled by this one, though, as it looks very like an Eyed Ladybird
but I don't think the habitat is quite right 
as these insects are usually found on pine trees and other conifers. 
Another insect for the UK Ladybird Survey...

I love this landscape of mere, reedbed, sea and sky. Tides and migrant birds come and go, just like the light and the shadows. 

There was just time for a slice of malteaser cake on the terrace at NWT Cley before heading home to Suffolk.

Species list to follow, but do click on the yellow background and take a look at a wonderful post on North Norfolk from fellow blogger, Adam Tilt.